SGOSS Newsletter - September 2012
Dear Fellow Governors
This will be my final bulletin as Chief Executive of School Governors One-Stop Shop, the Charity I helped to establish in 1999 and have led ever since. It has been an amazing, stimulating, rewarding, humbling and quite remarkable opportunity which I have enjoyed enormously. Initially a Pilot project in the 26 most deprived areas within the Excellence in Cities initiative, and with no guarantee of extension, I am extremely proud of the contribution we have made to governance in England and hopefully to the lives of the children in the schools where those we have recruited have served as governors. This could have not been achieved without your commitment; without the tireless efforts of all those who have worked for and are still working for SGOSS; and without the contributions of the many many individuals and organisations who have espoused the governance cause. My sincere thanks to you all.
Clearly with the increasing emphasis on school improvement, and a greater element of competitiveness between schools in the same area, the role of governors becomes even more important. In this context the new composition regulations for an LA maintained schools which came into force on 1st September will at least provide the opportunity to reconstitute your governing body with an emphasis on skills. (for more details see below). While reconstitution is not mandatory, the changes it enables could deliver significant added value.
There are other things to look out for too, which will certainly be of interest after the 28th September. Expect a November publication from the Charity Commission who have worked in partnership with SGOSS and the DfE to produce a Charity Law Introduction for School Governors; and more news about CSV Make a Difference Day 2012 - http://www.csv.org.uk/campaigns/csv-make-difference-day/ - which will take place on Saturday 27th October. This year the campaign is focusing on the skills people can use to volunteer. From professional expertise in web design, marketing and accountancy to a passion for photography, gardening or beauty therapy - everyone has a skill they can use to help others. Assuming my governing body want me to (!) I intend to continue as Chair of Finance at a primary school in Cambridge, hopefully not only contributing to its continued success but also gaining new expertise in the process. So while no longer a player on the national stage, school governance has not seen the back of me just yet. So thank you all again, and every good wish for your own and your school’s future. I am reminded of Nelson Mandela’s observation, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Chief Executive, SGOSS
In September's Issue...
A New Logo for SGOSS!
The current logo has not changed at all, and the strap line has only received minor amends, since the launch of the organisation in 1999. The existing design has made a wonderful and cost effective contribution to the development and establishing of the company’s brand identity, but there is general acceptance that a change is now appropriate. The way forward has been discussed by the Trustees and the staff of SGOSS, a number of optional routes explored, and a new logo agreed.
Among the key considerations has been the fact that School Governors’ One-Stop Shop is not:
- Easy to remember or use
- An accurate description of what the company does; It is not a One-Stop for governance and it is not a Shop
but School Governors’ One-Stop Shop is:
- Widely known as SGOSS which has acquired brand status over the past 13 years
- The decision has therefore been taken to protect and preserve SGOSS and to use it as the basis for a new, modern, and visually interesting brand identity.
The new logo allows creative use to be made of the letters GO, includes an arrow for emphasis and is complemented by the words Governors for Schools, has been agreed by the Board, and implementation will start over the next few months.
IAA: "Award for Innovative Effective Governance"
Are governors the unsung heroes in your academy?
Governing bodies are playing an increasingly important role in helping to drive improvement in academies and the Independent Academies Association (IAA) has added a new award to their existing range of Best Practice Awards to celebrate excellence in this particular area.
The Award for Innovative Effective Governance offers academies the chance to gain recognition for new and more creative ways of working.
The move acknowledges the ongoing transformation in governance as it becomes increasingly more business focused, with many examples of schools making better use of traditional governance structures or innovating with new ones and learning from the characteristics and practices of highly successful non-executive bodies in other sectors.
It adds to the Association’s efforts to celebrate excellence in other aspects of the academies movement with their 2012-2013 awards having 8 categories covering other key areas such as partnership working, sustainability, inclusion, entrepreneurialism and innovation, transformation, learning outside the classroom and international outreach.
IAA Executive Director, Caroline Whitty, said: “Governance is changing and becoming, by necessity more business-like and the IAA wants to recognise and encourage this.
“Some very exciting innovation is underway and it is important to let more academy governing bodies share in and learn from these examples of Best Practice as they consider how to progress their own strategic direction. With the breadth and the diversity of the wider Academy movement, a range of highly effective governance models are being effectively used and developed, some of which, in the growing number of larger groups and federations, are now quite complex."
The closing date for entries is Friday 11th January and the Awards Ceremony will take place at the Awards Dinner at the IAA’s Spring Conference & AGM in London.
The Independent Academies Association (IAA) is the national representative membership organisation dedicated to supporting leadership in Academies and other independent state schools. For more details about membership visit www.iaa.uk.net
The Importance of School and Local Business Partnerships
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) supports the work of SGOSS. It is important for schools and local business communities that business people sit on school governing bodies wherever possible. They have specific skills and experiences that can help the success of a school but can also help ensure that schools engage with local small firms.
The FSB believes that young people need to be exposed to the workplace as early as possible to help them develop key employability skills, develop a knowledge of business and to be inspired for their future careers. Schools have within them tomorrow’s budding entrepreneurs they need to be supported to flourish. www.fsb.org.uk
Services for Academies and Free Schools
Prospects Improve is the schools and academies consultancy service of Prospects Services. It is a service wholly dedicated to empowering schools and academies to drive up standards and to take responsibility for their own journey of self improvement.
Prospects is not only on the DfE Education Advisers Framework for Academies and Free Schools, but is also a sponsor in it’s own right.
Prospects Academies Trust of primary, secondary and special academies and schools has clearly set out on a journey to:
- Establish a network of outstanding community academies and free schools working together as a family of learning with similar values, aspirations and a commitment to success for all students.
- Meet the needs and expectations of our communities in ensuring we deliver a high quality learning experience for the sons and daughters of the families that support our academies and schools.
- Ensure we provide all our staff with the knowledge skills and expertise they require to deliver the best possible learning outcome for all our pupils and students.
- Work in partnership with all government agencies, local authorities and interest groups to maximize the strength of local partnerships to benefit the place of the academy in the local community.
Prospects Academy Trust is the not for profit charitable Trust of Prospects, specifically established to supporting the sponsorship of academies and free schools.
They are working to establishing our academies at the heart of their local community, working with parents, carers and families to provide a resource that answers the wider learning needs of our communities. They place a great deal of emphasis on governance and the role of Governors.
National Careers Week 2013
March 4th – 8th 2013 is set to become the third annual National Careers Week (NCW), a celebration of careers guidance and free resources in education across the UK. The week connects careers practitioners, teachers, students, parents and employers to help better inform our future talent about the world of work.
The aim of the initiative is to empower individuals and establishments to come together through events and activities in their respective communities to celebrate the broad range of career opportunities and destination routes available to school and college leavers.
"The materials provided through National Careers Week are excellent. There is something for all aspects of school life and it definitely enriches children’s information."
Head of Careers, Lagan College
In 2012 Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge led the way with their Careers Week celebrations. The college’s vision was to provide subject specific careers education to all 2,000 of their students. Following the success of these activities, the college will again be providing careers advice to each and every one of their students in 2013.
“The Careers Week activity we undertook last year that linked to all of our subjects, was a huge success. By popular demand, it is to return again in March 2013”
Careers Manager, Long Road Sixth Form College
Over the course of Careers Week, teachers at the college spent 15 minutes delivering careers education relevant to their subject. They each started by showing a 5 minute case study film to show an example of career pathways specific to that topic followed by discussions with students about their career ambitions. This was repeated at the start of each subject lesson through the week, ensuring each student received careers education about each of their studied subjects.
To enhance their Careers Week activities further in 2013, Long Road announced that they plan to set up drop-in sessions with career advisers for students.
An opportunity to both thank and reward
Trustees’ Week is the annual celebration of trusteeship, to highlight the great work that trustees do and to draw attention to the opportunities for people to make a real difference. Trustees’ Week 2012 is 5th-11th November organised by the Charity Commission in conjunction with partners.
Charities and umbrella bodies can get involved by holding events to match people to charities looking for trustees, or to offer training, or to thank existing trustees.
Trustees' Week 2012 aims to celebrate the fantastic work that trustees do for charities and to encourage more people to think about becoming trustees. Events will be held throughout England and Wales to offer people the chance to learn more about trusteeship and offer vital information to those who are already trustees. For more information, please visit www.trusteesweek.org.uk
Citizenship Education Opportunities
The Citizenship Foundation, an education and participation charity, focuses on supporting citizenship education, developing young people’s skills and knowledge to enable them to participate in civil society, community and political life. However, much is also relevant across other subjects.
With its roots in finding creative ways to develop young people’s legal capability, the Citizenship Foundation runs mock trial competitions in real court rooms for over 6,500 12-18 year olds, supported by over 1,500 barristers, magistrates and other legal professionals. Lawyers in Schools ‘does what it says on the tin’ through interactive workshops designed to help 14-16 year olds look at legal topics relevant to their daily lives. Both projects provide specially written resources that are designed to help teachers and volunteers deliver a complex subject area in an interesting and relevant way.
Beyond learning about the law, the Citizenship Foundation also runs several other programmes, provides training and consultancy to teachers and other educationalists, and produces publications and text books on citizenship issues. Just a few examples are listed here:
Paying for It – understand how the economy affects society and have your say in the Youth Budget
Giving Nation – 40,000 young people become social entrepeneurs, fundraisers, campaigners and volunteers for charities and good causes
Go Givers – giving primary school children the skills and confidence to make a positive contribution to their communities
Climate exChange – connecting young people in Europe and Africa to tackle issues affecting climate change
To find out more, please visit www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk
New Governing Body Composition Opportunity, and Governing Body Code of Practice
Composition of governing bodies
The new composition regulations for LA maintained schools came into force on 1st September 2012. If you wish to reconstitute your governing body, you will need to do so under these regulations. For any school that doesn’t, the 2007 regulations still apply.
Academies already have more flexibility on size and composition.
The main changes possible for LA maintained school governing bodies are:
- Minimum of seven members of the governing body
- Minimum of two elected parent governors
- Maximum of one local authority governor; governing bodies can now set criteria for LA governors and reject those that do not meet them
- Maximum of one elected staff governor (not including the head) Staff may be appointed as co-opted governors provided staff (including the Head Teacher) comprise no more than 1/3 of the total governing body.
- Partnership governors – must have skills to contribute to effective governance and success of the school.
- Community governor and sponsor governor category abolished, and co-opted governor category created.
NGA Top Tip:
It is good practice to adopt a Code of Practice at your first governing body meeting of the year.
NGA has updated its model Code of Practice for both local authority maintained schools and academies. This resource is free for everyone to download from the NGA website: http://www.nga.org.uk/Resources/Useful-Documents/Code-of-Practice.aspx
“While I didn't become a sabbatical officer because of a deep passion for education, this was something that grew for me while in office. I knew that once I finished being a ‘Sabb’ I wanted to carry on getting students involved and excited about University, but first I had to make sure they got there.
That is why I decided to become a School Governor. I felt that both the passion and skills I'd developed as a trustee at a students' union would be useful. In the first few months I could apply the experience I had in building projects, budgeting and supporting a Nursery in my school governing body. I found it easy to bring skills on board and knowing how different types of trustees (lay, student and officer) translated perfectly with community, parent and staff governors.
I chose a Primary school because that's where I thought a difference could be made. I feel privileged to have had the University experience that led me to be a student officer, and I hope my place as a school governor can give many more people a chance to encounter Further and Higher Education”.
Nick Smith - Assistant Academic Registrar (Governance & Council) at Queen Mary University London
(Former Students' Union Sabbatical Officer at Reading SU)
Primary Leadership Development Programme
Future Leaders offers new primary leadership development programme!
The attainment gap between students from poor backgrounds and their more affluent peers remains, and much of that gap will have been evident before and during primary school. Furthermore, there is a looming headteacher shortage with 30% of primary heads being over 55 years. Schools in challenging circumstances will be most acutely affected.
To address this, and after six years successfully training secondary school leaders, the education charity Future Leaders Charitable Trust is now expanding to the primary sector. Its mission is to ensure every child reaches their full academic potential, regardless of background and the expansion will help more children get the education they need from an early age.
The organisation is running a pilot programme in November where it will be working with talented assistant and deputy headteachers who aspire to lead challenging primary schools within the next three years. The high-quality facilitated training will include coaching from an experienced headteacher and access to an online network of over 350 Future Leaders sharing best practice and already making an impact in secondary schools.
It’s an excellent CPD opportunity for individuals wanting to make a real difference and for governors thinking about succession planning.
Grants for Primary School Academy Chains
Up to £50,000 now available to primary schools to explore academy status – don’t miss the deadline!
The Department for Education has announced a Primary Chains Grant for schools considering converting to academy status as part of a wider group or chain of schools. The grant is in addition to the £25,000 academy conversion grant already available to each individual school to convert but is only available for schools applying before 31 December 2012.
There has never been a better time for primary schools considering academy status to access the funds needed to develop their thinking and plans and so SSAT* are providing two seminars in October 2012 that will provide governors with all of the key information on academy status and academy chains that you need to make a decision and claim the grant.
We recommend governors attend with their Head Teacher and bursar.
The programme includes:
- An introduction to academy status – key implications and processes
- Academy Chains – what are they and what are the options for my school
- A case study from a Head Teacher of a recently converted academy
- Academy funding
- Academy Governance– what are the implications for governors of schools converting to academy status?
- Academy Finance - key changes to financial management responsibilities
- Opportunities throughout for Q&A
Dates and location
- 11 October London
- 16 October Nottingham
Arrange a briefing at your school
If you prefer, SSAT can also visit your school to speak with you and the governing body about academy status. This provides the best opportunity to discuss in detail your particular circumstances. You can also invite neighbouring schools to join you if desired as we can comfortably work with a group of 40 guests. Our aim to present the key information impartially in order that governors can undertake a robust decision making process.
*SSAT is an independent membership organisation for schools that has worked with the academies programme since its inception. Our Academies Team has leading edge knowledge of the sector.
Become a Member or Fellow of CMI
As a school governor you have a unique opportunity to acquire, develop and use critical management skills. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) works in partnership with SGOSS giving you the support and resources you need to fulfill this stimulating role.
CMI offers SGOSS recruited school governors the opportunity to translate their management skills into professional recognition. As an recruited governor you could save up to £100* on the usual CMI joining fee/subscription in the first year and become a Member or Fellow of CMI from just £118*. Click here to find out more about CMI's offer or visit CMI's website www.managers.org.uk/sgoss
*To ensure that you can take advantage of this membership offer please quote the code 4001 for SGOSS when in contact with CMI. When joining online please quote this ‘promotional code’ for the discount to be applied.
WIN a motivational guest speaker visit from Claire Young
An opportunity to Win a Visit from Claire Young as a guest speaker.
Claire Young, 32, is the straight talking; no-nonsense business woman who is well known for reaching the final of BBC1’s The Apprentice (2008). Now a successful young businesswoman she hopes that her story will motivate others to realise that with hard work, drive and determination anything is possible.
Claire has worked non-stop setting up numerous business ventures including www.schoolspeakers.co.uk and www.girlsoutloud.org.uk. She is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship and enterprise to our younger generation and founded TeenBiz www.teenbiz.org.uk the UK’s first business start up scheme for under 18s. Claire is Honorary President of Young Chamber UK (www.youngchamber.com) a not-for-profit social enterprise organisation which is dedicated to ensuring that young people of all levels of ability and background are equipped with the skills needed to fulfil their aspirations and achieve their goals. She works ‘hands on’ in schools (primary through to university age), and across multiple government organisations, helping students to raise aspirations, take off the blinkers and think big!
Entries must be received by 31st October 2012, and the winning school must take the talk between January and July 2013 and be willing to cover Claire’s travel expenses. The winning school will be the one whose contact details are drawn out of the hat first.
Converting to Academy Status Module
Converting to Academy Status is Modern Governor’s introductory module aimed at maintained schools wishing to convert.
Written in conjunction with the NGA this first module explores:
- What an Academy is and who is responsible for one.
- The basic duties of directors, trustees and members.
- Key differences in finance, LA control, pay and staffing conditions, national curriculum and term length.
- The steps, financial issues and criteria for applying for Academy status.
- The implications of Central Government funding, GAG and LACSEG.
Emma Knights, Chief Executive Officer of the NGA commented:
“The NGA thinks that it is incredibly important that governors have access to all the facts when making any important decision. In this module we have highlighted the important differences and key topics that governors should be thinking about before embarking on the road to academy status.”
A second module will be released shortly on Academy Governance. This looks at the key elements of an effective governing body, the constitution and procedures for running the governing body in an academy and staffing.
Converting to Academy Status is one of 23 e-learning modules available at http://www.moderngovernor.com/course-content/
Freedom of Information – A Guide for Governors; New Module now available from Modern Governor
In this module, you’ll explore and build on your knowledge of the FOI Act and how it applies to schools. You’ll learn more about your role and responsibilities as a Governor.You’ll learn about what your Governing Body needs to put into place to comply with the legislation. You’ll explore what information requests your school may receive and how it should respond, and discover when your school can refuse a request. View our new module by following this link
An updated catalogue of Modern Governor training modules is also available via the SGOSS web site within the Resources Section (www.sgoss.org.uk)
The b-live Foundation - Helping young people become employable and work ready
The b-live Foundation CIC
The b-live Foundation CIC supports over 303,000 young people (11-19 yrs) and 1,200 Secondary Schools across the UK.
The core purpose of the foundation is to help young people become employable and work ready by working with schools, employers and relevant partners to deliver a highly engaging and inspirational integrated curriculum programme including Personalised CIAG, Teaching resources, Employer opportunities and Schools visits.
This year the programme has achieved the best results yet with young people from socially diverse backgrounds showing higher engagement and motivation, b-live schools improving in attainment and all young people within the b-live network making more informed career decisions which are aligned to real job opportunities provided by b-live employers. This b-live data results also contributed towards the 2011/12 Cabinet Office Survey on Social Mobility and Child Poverty.
Results delivered to date:-
1. 303,000 young people engaged (15% market share)
2. 40% young people choosing Apprenticeship route
3. 89% young people making informed decisions
4. 1,200 schools (27% market share)
5. 40 % coverage in 20 LA areas
6. 10% curriculum time in all schools taken up by the b-live programme
7. Measured student development
8. 68% teachers state the b-live programme is improving attainment
9. 75% teacher state b-live students have a greater awareness of the career paths due to engaging with The b-live programme
10. Support from 50 National employers
b-live Foundation CIC - looking ahead
With an established network and proven results the b-live foundation will be focusing on ensuring that young people in the network are provided with additional support to move them from school into actual employment. This will be delivered by the continued support of both teachers and employer’s.
This year b-live employer partners are committed to deliver the following:-
1. Commitment of 11,000 opportunities including both Work Experience and Apprenticeships between 2012-15 helping to develop employability skills amongst the b-live community
2. Collaboration to develop integrated lessons including a real work based task
3. Local support through structured school visits
4. Support reach to 3,000 schools in the next 3-5 years
New, Comprehensive Guidance for Academy Governors
Academy trusts have different governance arrangements to maintained schools and their governors have a wider range of duties than governors of maintained schools. These changes in responsibilities can be unsettling to governors looking to go through the conversion process and can deter prospective governors. However, the governance arrangements, once understood, should pose no problems and many of the new legal duties should be familiar, especially given that governors of maintained schools are already under a general duty to act in good faith and in the best interest of the school. To help governors understand the implications of change, SGOSS has been extremely fortunate to receive the pro-bono assistance of Browne Jacobson and Allen & Overy who have worked together to produce a comprehensive briefing document entitled “Roles and Responsibilities of Academy Governors”. This can be accessed via the following link on the SGOSS web site http://www.sgoss.org.uk/publications.html
82% of the population don't know what governors do (YouGov Survey)
School governors control more than 80bn of public money, yet 82% of the population don’t know what they do.
There are more than 300,000 school governors in the UK, all of whom volunteer their time free of charge. Their function is to provide constructive challenge to, and ensure accountability in, school leadership teams. Crucially they are responsible for appointing the headteacher and signing off and monitoring the school budget.
In academies their responsibilities are even further reaching. They effectively become the board of a private enterprise and are the legal employers of staff.
In addition, a recent report on the impact of governors by the School Governors One Stop Shop (SGOSS) provided anecdotal evidence that linked the effectiveness of the governing body with pupil performance. (Link provided below).
Yet, despite the important place they occupy in the country’s education landscape, a poll of 1779 English adults conducted for Ten Governor Support service by YouGov revealed that when asked ‘Thinking about all schools in England, Who do you think is primarily responsible for signing off the school budget and managing the performance of the headteacher in England’s schools?’ only 18% replied School Governors/ Board of Governors.
8% cited Michael Gove the Education Secretary, 1% thought it would be the Prime Minister, 15% assumed it would be the local authority and 41% stated that they didn’t know.
This finding is unsurprising because the majority of the rhetoric about schools puts headteachers and teachers firmly at the centre of the debate, with school governors rarely mentioned.
However, even taking into account the lack of understanding which surrounds the role of school governors, a separate poll conducted by YouGov of 1,707 adults in England found that 27% would be willing to volunteer as a school governor when asked ‘Regardless of whether or not you have any children who attend a local school, would you be willing to volunteer as a school governor for a few hours a month to support your local school?’.
This is encouraging when there are some 30,000 vacant governor places in schools in England. Interestingly adults in the 18-24 age group were more likely to say they would volunteer as a school governor than any other age group (31% of respondents). Least likely to volunteer were those adults aged 35-44 (20% of respondents).
Lord Hill, Under-Secretary of State for Schools, recently stated: "It is absolutely clear to me that the most important decision-making group in any school is the governing body. We need to ensure that governing bodies have the best possible people, representing a range of different groups and with the right mix of skills".
And recent public pronouncements from the Secretary of State Michael Gove and the Chief Inspector of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw have similarly highlighted the crucial importance of appropriately skilled governing bodies to school improvement, and the very real dangers of anything less.
In order to counteract this situation, an All Party Parliamentary Group led by MP Neil Carmichael and including representatives of Ten Governor Support, SGOSS, and the National Governors Association (NGA) is working together to raise the profile of school governance as an important part of our education system. They have also created a list of 20 challenging questions which governing bodies are encouraged to ask themselves at the start of the each school year.
The 20 questions include a section addressing the overall question: ‘Are we properly engaged with our school community, the wider school sector and the outside world?’ http://bit.ly/Qd3Txv
Neil Carmichael MP said: “This finding goes to the heart of the debate about school governance. It is why we must develop the role and recruitment of governors in order to strengthen leadership, accountability and capacity for innovation. I am determined to do this through the newly formed APPG, Education Select Committee and discussions with ministers.”
Lord Bichard, who is working as a special advisor to Ten Governor Support, commented: “The results of this YouGov Poll have far reaching implications for the quality of governance available in our schools and the ease with which schools can recruit governors of the right calibre to carry out the tasks required. If the general population is unclear about the role of school governors, how can schools expect to recruit people who understand what they are required to do? The results also have implications for accountability if school governors are essentially invisible. It is encouraging however, that such a large proportion of the population would be willing to volunteer. If we can raise awareness of school governance and the need to support them in their role, our schools would be in a far stronger position.”
Fergal Roche, MD of Ten Governor Support said: “This poll shows the low levels of awareness in England of the sterling job that school governors do. School governors shoulder a lot of responsibility and this should be acknowledged more widely. In addition, further investment in governor skills by local authorities and schools would create an even better skilled volunteer force which can add more value.”
Emma Knights CEO of the National Governors Association commented: “Being a school governor is a very responsible role. Governing bodies exist to ensure our children and young people are getting the best education they possibly can. The work they do is largely hidden from public view: others do not see us recruiting, supporting and challenging headteachers and their senior teams as most of that rightly happens inside schools. The Secretary Of State Michael Gove has this summer asked the National Governors’ Association to work with him to find ways of ensuring governors do get the respect they deserve.”
Steve Acklam CEO of SGOSS commented: “We need to encourage committed, qualified people to step forwards by giving school governors equal importance in the discussion about school improvement. We can’t assume that there is an endless pipeline of people willing to volunteer. Sometimes schools and local authorities find it difficult to engage with local employers when looking for governors, SGOSS can help with this. Anyone interested in volunteering as a school governor, please do get in touch.”
Kieran McDermott, CEO of One Education, said: "Today, more than ever before, we need skilled and effective governors in our schools. We have committed our efforts to supporting them and, through them, the children they serve."